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State of the Birds Report

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The State of the Birds


The birds we see in our backyards, fields, forests, deserts, and oceans have much to tell us about the health of the environment. Each year, thousands of citizen-science participants contribute data from across the United States, making it possible to identify birds in trouble. By understanding the message from birds and taking action, we can help them thrive and safeguard our own future.

To develop this first State of the Birds report for the United States, our team of experts drew upon a variety of sources to determine the conservation status and population trends of more than 800 bird species that occur regularly within the continental U.S., Hawaii, and U.S. oceans.

Healthy bird populations depend on maintenance of both the quality and quantity of habitats. These same habitats provide resources that are essential for human survival and quality of life. Trends in bird populations can give us initial insight into the health of these habitats, and thus provide an indication of environmental sustainability.

We began by assigning each bird species to one of seven primary habitats: oceans, coasts, wetlands, arctic, forests, grasslands, or aridlands. Hawaiian landbirds were treated separately. We defined habitats following the 2008 Heinz Foundation report, The State of the Nation’s Ecosystems

Birds that are restricted to a single habitat for breeding were defined as habitat obligates, representing an important group of species that are most characteristic of a habitat and that should be most sensitive to environmental problems. Birds found in three or more habitats were considered generalists. We recognized birds that use urban and suburban landscapes as occupying a secondary habitat.


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Top image: Sandhill Cranes by David Quanrud

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